Colin D Ellis
Leadership | Culture | Success
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Are You Still Relevant?

One of my favourite books is Emotional Capitalists by Martyn Newman. Like Daniel Goleman before him, his research is extensive and categorically proves that the organisations outperforming their competitors are those where emotional intelligence is highest.

As he puts it, ‘In the last 10 years the most sensational strategy for achieving goals has been to focus on developing emotional intelligence. It is an indispensable set of social and emotional competencies for leveraging knowledge and emotions to drive positive change and business success.’

I frequently reference this book when I’m talking to individuals about the need to ensure that their emotions and behaviours are relevant for 2018, not 2010.

Often when we think about staying relevant, we look to skills first. Am I qualified in the latest method? How can I prove that I fully understand (and can use) the latest tools?

Of course, this is good stuff, but it is – and will always be – secondary to having the right behaviours and attitude. If you have the right attitude, then learning any new skill is possible.

Where organisations get transformation wrong time and again is that they focus on the tools to seemingly transform the business, not giving employees the insights into the behaviours they need to change.

It’s only through the latter that transformation can be truly successful and a business can remain best-placed to maintain relevance and market share. Or as Newman puts it, ‘Emotionally intelligent leadership, with its focus on people and skills is the key to competitive advantage.’

Deloitte and MIT forecast that more than 70% of companies today are transforming into digital businesses, with research organisation IDC, in its Worldwide Digital Transformation Guide,  estimating the spend to reach $2tn by 2020.

Deloitte/MIT also found that 70% of CEOs say their people do not have the behaviours to adapt.

And yet, when it comes to development, the dollars are always spent on technical skills rather than supporting the behaviour change required to build an organisation of the future. One where there’ll be less of an emphasis on prescriptive process, hierarchical structures and long-term projects, with the focus instead being on self-organising individuals and teams who start and stop things quickly.

These people need to be self-aware, flexible in their thinking, create psychologically safe teams, and be able to readily accept responsibility to lead and collaborate with others. And to do all of that, they need to choose to behave differently.

Behaviours such as courage, empathy, kindness, loyalty, enthusiasm, creativity, determination and care are needed to build the multi-generational teams required to transform. Creating cultural ‘plays’ that describe the behaviours we expect of each other, provide a perfect foundation from which to transform and create emotional (or social) contracts for staff to honour.

I’ve seen this play out in the work that I do.

Organisations that take the time and spend the money to develop these social contracts will always outperform their competitors because they understand that these agreements enable staff to hold each other to account and drive the business forward, not hold it back.

The organisations that don’t do this, the ones  who decide that doing things with the same old people in the same old way, is the way to go, will fail. Choosing to do this sends the message to the staff that the behaviours at the top haven’t changed, so the staff choose not to make the decision to change either.

Your behaviours define who you are. Your happiness, resilience, motivation and ultimately your success.

In order to achieve this you have to continually ask yourself, ‘Are my behaviours still relevant?’, if not, then you have to develop the courage to change or find someone to help you do it.


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